Postseason college hockey is in full-force across the nation. Teams are battling for conference tournaments, automatic bids, and thus the opportunity for a one in sixteen chance to take home a national championship.

The Robert Morris Colonials are a team that not only has its sights on all the above, but has the firepower, senior leadership, and goaltending to make it a viable reality.
It all starts for the Colonials this weekend, in the second round of the Atlantic Hockey Conference tournament. After a first-round bye, the top-seeded Colonials have a date set with the Bentley Falcons in a best-of-three series that runs from Friday to Sunday.

The two teams met last in January, with the Colonials sweeping two games from the Falcons at their friendly confines of the 84 Lumber Arena by a combined score of 10-1.
The Colonials have a decisive advantage offensively, sporting the nation’s third best offense in terms of goals scored per game, at 4.09 goals per game. The Falcons, on the other hand, average about 2.65 goals per game. They also outnumber Bentley in their number of players that have registered at least 20 points on the season, leading the falcons in that category, 9-4. However, the Falcons have three players with 40-plus points, while the Colonials have just two.

Colonials Zac Lynch (3rd in points, 5th in goals, 9th in assists) and Greg Gibson (6th in points, 2nd in goals) and Falcon Max French (7th in goals, 10th in points) were all first-team selections in the Atlantic Hockey Conference, as well as preliminary nominees for the Hobey Baker Award, the highest individual honor for collegiate hockey. All three of these players can make electrifying plays.
The difference is that the Colonials have much more depth and consistency out of their offense compared to the Falcons. In the Colonials’ sweep of the Falcons in January, Lynch and Gibson had a hand in just three of the 10 goals that the team scored that weekend.


Not to mention that the Colonials have a battle-tested goaltender in senior Terry Shaffer, who posts the conference’s highest save percentage, win percentage, and highest number of shutouts. Shaffer has been known through his four years at RMU to be a big-game goaltender. He was in net for the team’s 6-4 victory of rival Penn State during the Three Rivers Classic, which the Colonials won for the second time in four years. Himself and Lynch were both named to the all-tournament team, with Lynch taking home the Most Valuable Player award.

The Colonials were in a similar position last year. Coming off of another regular season conference championship, with Cody Wydo rewriting the record books and up for the Hobey Baker Award, all looked promising for a team looking to punch its second consecutive ticket to the NCAA Tournament. That team went on to be upset by the Mercyhurst Lakers, a team that the Colonials may have to face again this year, assuming they pass by Bentley this weekend.

It will either be the fourth seeded Lakers (17-13-4) or the fifth seeded RIT Tigers (14-14-6), who face off in hopes of meeting either the Colonials or Falcons in the next round. The Colonials defeated and tied the Lakers in a weekend series in January, while the Tigers and Colonials split games in early December.

The Colonials are aided by nine seniors, including six that were named to one of the AHC’s all-conference teams. Last year’s early exit from the conference tournament, and a squandered chance to make a run in the national tournament, should be fresh in the minds of those seniors.
If the Colonials make it through the AHC unscathed and with a championship in-hand, don’t be surprised to see them make a run come NCAA Tournament time. The Colonials have registered wins over #9 Michigan, # 11 Umass-Lowell, and #14 Penn State, all three of which could be dancing alongside the Colonials when the 16 team bracket is announced.

Couple that with the experience, scoring, and parity in college hockey, and the Colonials have a viable chance to bring Robert Morris University a national championship at the division one level.
Game Schedule:
Game 1- 3/11, 7:05 p.m.
Game 2- 3/12, 7:05 p.m.
Game 3 (If necessary)- 3/13, 7:05 p.m.

Posted in College Sports